First Post Blood Donation Run

Data Mining
This appeared on Daily Kos (specifically for me, I think):

Screen shot 2013-06-18 at 9.17.53 AM

Do they have me pegged? (running, butt shot)

Today’s run and post

I did a whole blood donation yesterday and today went out for a hilly 5.1 mile run in pleasant conditions.

Last week: similar effort was 48:50. Today: 51:40. The big difference was the final mile; today I had to stop and walk at 43 minutes; I was wheezing. I hit half way (net downhill) in 24:30.

What I noticed: for the first 30-35 minutes moderate running on the flats and the downhills didn’t bother me at all. But the uphills: wow! Those hurt; it was right about “tempo” effort (in this case, the steep uphills) that I felt it.

Also, I didn’t recover from the uphill efforts like I normally do.

More of the effects:

Lots of comments here

Some on the science here:

The link between blood loss and endurance is straightforward. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen molecules from your lungs to your muscles. Extract a standard unit of blood – about 450 millilitres – and you lose roughly 9 per cent of the hemoglobin in your body. Less oxygen gets to your muscles, and as a result you run more slowly.

In fact, blood donation is the mirror image of the banned blood-doping technique used by Lance Armstrong and other disgraced endurance athletes, says Dr. Andrew Jones, a professor of applied physiology at the University of Exeter in England who has studied the performance implications of blood donation and blood doping. By reinfusing fresh blood, these cheating athletes boost their circulating hemoglobin so they can get more oxygen to their muscles and consequently, say, win the Tour de France.

You have about five litres of blood in your body; after you take out a unit, it takes 24 hours or so to restore that volume, assuming you drink enough fluids. For that reason, Jones suggests being cautious about training in the first 24 hours after donating blood.

Even after your blood volume returns to normal, the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin takes much longer to regenerate. A German study in 2008 found that volunteers took an average of 36 days (with a range of 20 to 59 days) before their hemoglobin levels returned to predonation levels – which is why the Canadian Blood Services stipulates a minimum interval of 56 days between donations.

That doesn’t mean your performance will be noticeably subpar for a full 36 days. Researchers at the University of North Texas recently put a group of volunteers through a series of high-intensity cycling tests, both before and after donating blood. The results, which will appear in a forthcoming issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, showed the volunteers reached exhaustion 19 per cent earlier when tested two hours after donating whole blood, and 7 per cent earlier two days after the donation.

But after seven days, their time to exhaustion was just 3.7 per cent lower than before donating, no longer a statistically significant difference. This suggests that the biggest deficits occur during the first week, and the differences should be too small to notice within a couple of weeks.

Note: you might be moving slower at an “exhaustion” intensity effort though. I’ve found that I am usually back to the pre donation level after about a month.

One story: back in 2001, I gave blood the day after the fall Steamboat 15K. I ran that race in 1:11 on Saturday and then gave blood the next day. The next weekend I attempted to run the Quad Cities Half Marathon and held my usual pace for 1 mile (I could run 1:37-1:42 in those days) and then fell back; I had forgotten that I had given blood.

Someone passed me at mile 2 and told me that they had seen me on TV (remember: this was the 9-11 month). “Ah-ha”, I thought. I limped to the finish in 1:49 but I was dying.


June 18, 2013 - Posted by | running | , , ,


  1. I tried this once in college years ago and needless to say it did not turn out so well.

    Comment by CultFit | June 18, 2013 | Reply

  2. I donate blood, too. About 40% of the time I qualify, the rest of the time my iron levels are too low. I actually asked my GP about this and he said that the Red Cross’s standard for iron levels is really high and that my “low” level (which is usually very close to the minimum acceptable) is likely normal for me, just low for them. It’s a bit embarrassing to be turned away, though; skulking out of the booth, I always feel like i need to announce, “No, I didn’t have sex with a man who had sex with another man between now and 1976 (that I know of…)” i suppose that little bit of paranoia about judgment comes from living in a VERY small, conservative town.

    Comment by Jennifer Jacobsen-Wood | June 19, 2013 | Reply

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